Tills ring out for budget shopping
PUBLISHED: 15:26 10 December 2008 | UPDATED: 10:20 23 August 2010
SHOPPERS have flocked to budget supermarkets due to the economic squeeze prompting mass expansion plans. Savvy residents have been dumping the traditional big four supermarkets in favour of budget stores like Aldi. Gravesend Aldi has witnessed a boom
SHOPPERS have flocked to budget supermarkets due to the economic squeeze prompting mass expansion plans.
Savvy residents have been dumping the traditional 'big four' supermarkets in favour of budget stores like Aldi.
Gravesend Aldi has witnessed a boom of 40 per cent and sales at their Swanley store have gone up 30 per cent since expanding in September.
Each of their sites in Kent is seeing 3,000 new customers every month and vegetable sales in 2008 are double last year.
The group's south east managing director, Graham Hetherington, has worked for the company for over 17 years, going back to the last serious recession of the early 1990s.
He came down to the store in St Mary's Avenue, Swanley, on Friday after announcing bold expansion plan.
Mr Hetherington said: "I've never seen anything like it before. Middle income groups who have felt the squeeze with rising utility bills are leaving Tesco and Sainsbury's.
"The secret is we don't have as many lines so we can keep our costs down. With less mark up we can charge cheaper prices. Smart shoppers are trying our produce and realising they don't have to sacrifice quality.
"Our biggest earning stores are those in affluent areas despite prices being uniform across the whole network."
Since expansion in September the Swanley site has taken on seven more staff.
Assistants can expect to earn £9 per hour and Aldi is ranked eighth in The Times' Top-100 employers - the only other retailer in the UK to break into the Top-10 is Marks and Spencer.
It is also holds the accolade of best own-label product across the entire food retail market at the industry's Q-awards.
Seasonal vegetables and fruit are sourced from small to medium sized farms in Kent and Cambridgeshire.
Mum of four, Mandy Montanarimi, 40, of Woodcroft, Eltham, typically spends £65 a week at the Swanley store. She said: "My children like the chocolate. I'm getting my Christmas food here as well as all the usual stuff."
The number of stores across the south east are expected to increase by 50 per cent over five years and the existing Kent network will see stores increased in size by 20 per cent. A graduate recruitment programme is being launched in 2009.
Mr Hetherington said: "In Swanley we sold out of 19-inch flat screen TVs within five minutes of opening. Recession - what recession?"
Factfile on Aldi:
* Aldi face cream sales went up 1,005 per cent after featuring in Gok Wan's How To Look Good Naked TV programme.
* A survey by Which? magazine found the supermarket's mince pies were ranked better than Harrods in a taste test last month.
* Sold half the UK's total sea bass market for two weeks after an advert by TV chef Phil Vickery.
* Ranked eighth in The Times' Top-100 employers.
* Holder of the Q-award for its Italian Stone Baked Pizza.
* Vegetable sales have doubled in a year.